Visiting Virginia Vineyards #3

This gray and dreary day found us heading out to the “country” in Virginia to check out some of the local vineyards and wines. Our second stop of the day was Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, VA. Overall, this vineyard was a very inviting place to visit. It had a huge patio with tables and chairs (which were actually full because despite the gray day, the weather was so warm for January!) and even an area where you can grill your own food and picnic. The tasting room is surrounded by the vineyards and gorgeous property.

Now, an overall comment and gripe. I have no problem with tasting fees. However, I feel stongly that they should be refunded or taken off the cost of a bottle when you buy. Especially if they are hefty. Here, it cost $5 for the regular tasting and $10 for the reserve, with no discount or refund. And also came with a glass. Which we left there because really, the LAST thing we need is another wine glass. We went for the reserve tasting since we were all the way out there.

The tasting room was crowded, but the staff was very friendly. They did their tastings in shifts, so you had to wait for the group to gather and everyone to pay, then they had about ten of us taste at the same time. I guess we hit it at a busy time of the day, we had to wait for a group to finish and there was another group waiting to start when we were done.

The regular tasting had 6 wines.

2005 Viognier-Easily the star of the show here. However, very steeply priced in my opinion at $29 a bottle and $8.50 a glass! This was a tart, crisp wine that was floral and displayed apricots on the nose with apple, apricot and a little pear in the mouth. I think this would be excellent with a spicy thai dish.

2004 Chardonnay- Aged in old oak, this was a smooth, tart chardonnay. There was almost no evidence of oak on this one. There were apples on the nose, peaches in the mouth and quite reserved overall.

2004 Mariposa- Amber in color, which I found odd in a rose, This was light and dry with flavors of cherries.

2005 Sarah’s Patio White- The best value of the day, at $13 a bottle we took home 3. A mix of vidal blanc, chardonnay and viognier, this had a fruity nose, is sweet but not cloying with pear and good structure.

2003 Rubiana-This is made in the style of a Rioja, but overall didn’t do much for me. There were currants and it was peppery and served too warm.

2003 Norton Estate Blend- Made with 75% Norton grapes, I got dirt and wood, red berries with a big body. A good value at $16.

The Reserve tasting included a bigger wine glass and 5 extra wines, all of which were quite pricey.

2003 Norton Locksley Reserve-This was bigger than the Estate Norton, mmore fruit on the nose, a bigger body with currants and hints of earth.

2005 Norton Barrel Select-The only wine made of 100% Norton, or the “American Grape.” I thought this smelled like grape juice. It was floral, but also a lot of grape jam, raspberry and quite light in the mouth.

2004 Papillon- Composed of Tannat and Petit Verdot, Matt said this was like drinking a glass of steak. I got meat and new leather.

2003 Petit Verdit-I got cherry blossoms on the nose, but not much in the mouth. This was tannic, it made me pucker.

2004 Petit Manseng- A dessert wine made in the ice wine style. It was thick and golden in color, tasted like drinking a honeysuckle flower with a hint of mango.

Overall, I thought the white wines were very well done. Chyrsalis produces 10,000 cases of wine a year, but I asked them how, if at all the the new VA laws are effecting them. And since they are so large, it isn’t. They already have a distributor and won’t really feel any effect since they do most distribution through in tasting room sales, distributors and their VIP program.

Fun to visit, but pick an off time or day. It was crowded and I would have liked to stay with a glass of wine, but the patio was packed as well.

6 Responses

  1. I totally agree with your gripe about tasting rooms, their mandatory and non-refundable fees, and the preponderance of glasses you receive. I would much rather let them keep the glass and let me keep my $5-$10, particularly if I buy some wine (certainly if I spend over $100 on wine, anyway).

    This is a nice series of posts, by the way! Living in Seattle, as I do, means I have no insight into the VA wine world. Good stuff!

  2. Thanks! Yeah, I was a little perturbed by the tasting fees this weekend. I guess with the new laws banning self-distribution, our little wineries need to make it up where they can, but this winery was much larger than other VA wineries (10,000 cases is huge here)! And it was odd, because we had gone into Northern VA wine country in October and visited 4 places, all of which had fees that were refunded with any purchase, so I was surprised to find these 2, not too far down the road, with non-refundable fees.

    Oh well. Now, I’ve only ever been to WA twice, the first time for my brother in-law’s wedding and the second time on my honeymoon. And the only winery we saw was the Columbia Winery since our dinner train stopped there. Though I suppose that would be because we were headed to Sonoma and Matt didn’t want to do much wine tasting on the other legs of our trip! But then again, wines from WA are much more widely distributed than VA wines.

  3. If I could design a WA winery trip, I’d include Kestrel on the list for sure…their wines are great and reasonably priced, and the winery itself is really fun. Just an aside…*)

  4. Hello Sonadora,

    Very nice review and pictures. Weekends and Holidays are truly busy times at most VA wineries. At least you had a chance to witness the show of support 1st hand (lol). I agree with you about the fee waiver for bottles purchased. Some wineries will waive the fee per bottle purchased and there are others that have no tasting fee at all. It is just an individual thing I suppose.

    Based on the wide variety of wines you guys purchase, what do you think about local prices overall ? Glad you had a great time, I plan on getting out this weekend!

    Happy Sipping!


  5. Dezel-

    Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I’ve noticed the busy weekends in VA before! It is a very interesting dichotomy as to which wineries have which tasting fee practices though. The smaller ones in Leesburg (Lost Creek, Hidden Brook, etc) all waived their fees if you bought, and then this larger one, Chrysalis, was all about a fee that’s equivalent or higher to anything I’ve seen at vineyards in the Sonoma area.

    As far as prices go, I also think that really varies by the local vineyard. VA reds are starting to impress me a little more, they’ve come a long way. However, I do not believe that many (if any) are good enough yet to command a $35-40 price tag. I can buy a gorgeous red for that money, and I just don’t think the VA reds are there yet. I found the prices that Chyrsalis had overall to be a little absurd. I think there were only two wines under $20!! And most were in the $30-40. The other vineyard we visited that day was much more reasonable. I will have to get that review up today. I find many VA whites to be a very good value, and I’ve also been impressed with some roses lately.

  6. I think you are right on the $$$. The whites, namely Viognier is done well and reasonably priced for the most part.

    Given the fact that wine lovers/enthusiasts as us have such a wonderful global selection of wines to choose from these days, quality and price does become an issue? It is difficult for me as well to up $30+ for a bottle of red at some places.

    Other regions are putting out some good buys usually under $15 and I think more local wineries need that 1 quality bargain ‘red’ ….at least to compete in the global market and on store shelves and of course to keep the home fans happy!

    Happy Sipping!


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